A Success Story in Healing from Abuse
By Joseph

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I was sexually abused from infancy through adolescence by my parents. The abuse from my mother began when I was four or five. The abuse from my father began as a toddler and became increasingly more violent through most of my teenage years. And as a couple they involved me in their private sexual life.

My memories of the abuse were “boxed away” for years. They began to surface during therapy in my fifties. One of the frightening things for me was the questioning of myself: “Is this real, is this only my fantasy life, could my parents really have done this to me?” But there were vivid memories that came through that felt so real, that were real. I remember a black shoe while I was being raped by my father, the pale yellow light coming through the sheets, the French foot of an upholstered chair, and the bare winter trees outside a window.

In the beginning all the memories were like a movie. I was watching it but I didn’t “feel” anything emotionally. That’s how I survived by dissociating myself from the abuse. In many ways the abuse has left me numb, feeling alone, not trusting others. I know I have to feel these emotions to fully heal but that is frightening to me. As a child you are “out on your own” when you are abused especially by adults you should be able to trust.

I have gone through times of self-mutilation: I cut myself. For me it wasn’t a cry for help, it was a pain I could control myself and partly a way to avoid feeling the pain, both physical and emotional, that was so out of my control as a child.

I am still in therapy with a fine doctor and slowly beginning to feel again, understand, trust myself and hopefully others. I have read extensively about sexually abused boys (two very good books are: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse by Mic Hunter and Victims No Longer by Mike Lew.) And I have joined 1 in 6, a site to help men who were sexually abused as boys and become a member of the Speakers Bureau of RAINN (rape, abuse, incest national network) that advocates for victims and has a national crisis hotline.

I am not through the pain, but part of my own healing seems to be trying to help others heal from this awful trauma even if it’s simply recommending a good book or giving a kind word of hope.

There have clearly been some positive things that have come out of my “dealing” with my abuse. I used to be very reluctant to be friends with other men, but now that I know where that fear comes from, I am finding it easier to make and be friends with men and I have reconnected with some older male friends as well.

Also now that I am not working so hard to keep my memories of the abuse “boxed in”, I believe I am thinking more clearly and some of the creative things I am involved in seem to be easier to get going and more goal directed.

I can also see that as I feel better about myself, I am becoming more relaxed and am able to “play” more, something I have always felt was important for the well-being of my personal relationship with my wife and family.

The tears are there for us all, don’t hide them, they are real, let the heat of your tears help to open the door to your heart again. That is something I am trying to learn myself. It’s still not always easy for me, but I can see things slowly getting better.

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